Ben Shelton got his breakthrough season back on track Thursday when he earned victory on his BNP Paribas Open debut.
The #NextGenATP American enjoyed a dream run to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in January, but suffered first-round defeats in Delray Beach and Acapulco last month. However, the 20-year-old ensured his dip in form wouldn’t turn into a slump, defeating Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-1 to reach the second round in Indian Wells.
In a ruthless display, the lefty showed home fans a glimpse of his potential, whipping an array of forehand winners past the Italian to earn victory in their first ATP Head2Head meeting after one hour and 11 minutes.
The American hugged the baseline to dictate and was strong on return, hitting with precision to break three times.
Shelton, who reached the third round on his ATP Masters 1000 debut in Cincinnati last season, is up two spots to No. 39 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. The 20-year-old was outside the Top 500 one year ago.
The American will face 2022 champion Taylor Fritz in what is set to be a popcorn second-round clash in the Californian desert on Saturday.